Religion: Interpretive Hijacking
In Hijacking Chrisitanity Robert Paterson poses the question, "Is it not time, for the story of Jesus to be talked about more?" He touches on the sensitive issue of how religious interpretation can breed contempt, intolerance, hatred, racism, and violence. This is in stark contrast to the message of Christ. It's interesting that he uses the term "hijacking," a word which has now become closely aligned with terrorism. It's approriate, since terrorism and religion are all too often closely aligned. Robert's perceptions are pointed...
He was killed because he was a leader of the unorthodox. Yet Christianity as a religion has become the symbol of orthodoxy. The sermon on the mount is the essence of his way. But all I hear from the so called Christians are the beliefs of the old testament and the attitudes of the Pharisees.
An orthodoxy is a practice or set of teachings that are deemed to be right or correct. Through these beliefs we shape our thoughts and actions. A belief that are seen to be in opposition to these right or correct beliefs is a heresy. Especially when it comes to matters of religion, this opposition has set the global stage for intense, sometimes beneficial and other times violent, forms of interaction.
One of the challenges with the promotion of these right or correct beliefs is in understanding exactly whose right or correct beliefs they are and why we should believe them to be true. One sense of the word Pharisee is a self-righteous or sanctimonious person. While in one sense we need to be right with ourselves, the source of this righteousness is sometimes unfortunately centered on the acquisition of power, influence and authority that is self-serving rather than self-giving.
Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written:
"These people honor me with their lips,
but their hearts are far from me.
They worship me in vain;
their teachings are but rules taught by men."
You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.
- [Mark 7:6-8]
Dr. Charles Stanley has a wonderful ability to speak with clarity. In the December issue of In Touch Magazine, Charles asks the question, "What do you consider most significant about Christmas?" His response is precise:
It [Christmas] is a personal promise from God to mankind...
Christmas was not just the birth of a baby; it was the birth of God in human flesh...
The Incarnation is the very essence of Christmas. There's nothing wrong with gifts or festivities, as long as they don't crowd out what belongs in the first place: Christmas is about God breaking into humanity, shattering time, and becoming life and hope and help to all mankind.
I have started seeing, once again, news coverage surrounding the rise of depression during the holiday season. This phenomenon seems to return around Christmas with amazing regularity, during a time in which God is breaking into humanity, shattering time, and becoming life and hope and help to all mankind. Perhaps part of this is the possibility that Christmas causes us to rise from the slumber of our busyness and places squarely in front of us the things we have chosen to cast aside. An interesting thought for Christmas might be:
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy...
- Matthew 6:19
Unfortunately, moths and rust do not destroy contempt, intolerance, hatred, racism and violence. Nor will they destroy self-serving orthodoxies that seek power, influence and authority in the mercurial space between what is said and what is actually done.
"Is it not time for the story of Jesus to be talked about more?"